The 2014 season was not an outstanding one for the New York Giants. The team that prides itself on winning championships fell short of the playoffs for the third straight season and has a lot of work to do this offseason. For quarterback Eli Manning, though, the campaign couldn’t have gone much better. Despite the lack of wins, you can make the argument that Manning had the best year of his career in 2014.
The emergence of Odell Beckham Jr. allowed Manning to throw 30 touchdown passes for just the second time in his career. He also set career highs in both QBR (70.9) and completion percentage (63.1). The 14 interceptions thrown by Manning were his lowest figure since 2009. It’s hard to imagine what kind of season the franchise quarterback might have had if his offensive line wasn’t in flux for most of the season.
Not every quarterback has one of the best seasons of his career at age 33, and that’s why a lot of the credit for Manning’s success has to go to offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo. Although he hadn’t had any experience as an NFL coordinator prior to 2014, McAdoo was formerly the quarterback coach for Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. That made him an attractive hire for the Giants after Kevin Gilbride retired following the 2013 season.
At the outset of the season, McAdoo promised a passing game that was faster and more efficient than what Giants fans were used to. What we got was a system that made Manning a more accurate passer while still allowing for big plays down the field.
Should the Giants be encouraged or discouraged that they couldn’t manage seven wins even with an improved Manning throwing to one of the best receivers in the NFL? That depends on your mindset, but one thing is for certain: The Giants don’t need to go quarterback shopping this spring, and that will allow them more resources to use on the offensive line and defense.
Considering the strides the passing game made in 2014, the Giants aren’t as far away from contention as their record would indicate. Some more depth on the inside of the offensive line – which spent practically the whole season without free agent acquisition Geoff Schwartz – would do wonders for a unit that had trouble protecting Manning and opening up holes in the run game.
There are still question marks on both sides of the ball, but the most important thing the Giants have going for them is the return of both Manning and McAdoo. The offense could really take off if the two continue to build off of what they started in 2014.